NFL Playoff Predictions: Postseason Odds for Teams Still in the Race
This is just what the NFL wanted—thick playoff races at the end of the regular season with a load of divisional games upcoming.
The top of each conference is a little more clear-cut, but the wild-card spots are wide open, which should make for some captivating football nearing the holidays.
Let's look at odds for the those teams that are still in the hunt.
(For the sake of this article, we're assuming that the following teams will make the playoffs that are currently holding onto the the two wild-card spots in their respective conferences: Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.)
Man, the Week 14 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys really stings for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Blowing a nine-point fourth-quarter lead is as damaging psychologically as it was for Cincinnati's playoff hopes, especially with the upcoming slate of games.
The Philadelphia Eagles are far from a formidable threat, but playing in Philly on a short week isn't a guaranteed victory.
After that, a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers could ultimately determine the Bengals fate. But even if they pull out what likely would be considered an upset victory, they will host the Baltimore Ravens in the season finale.
Luckily, no one seems to want that final wild-card spot.
The Steelers were supposed to stomp the San Diego Chargers at home, right?
The vast majority thought they would.
Instead, Philip Rivers and Co. snapped a four-game losing streak and sent the Steel City into panic mode.
Traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys won't be an easy task for the Steelers, and after that, the schedule isn't as easy as many initially believed.
The Bengals come to town in Week 16, and a rather confident Cleveland Browns team will face the Steelers to end the season.
New York Jets
The Jets—yes, the New York Jets—are in playoff contention.
Actually, they have a relatively good shot to make the final wild-card spot.
They're currently only a game out and have contests against the Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills remaining.
However, they'll need some help down the stretch.
If the defense continues to play well, who knows what can happen for the polarizing Gang Green?
The immediate availability of Robert Griffin III—after suffering a knee sprain that knocked him out of Sunday's game against the Ravens—will determine the Redskins' playoff chances. Kirk Cousins did an admirable job filling in for RG3 against the Baltimore Ravens, but the No. 2 overall pick gives Mike Shanahan's club the best chance to win.
Week 15's matchup against the Browns could be a trap game before two divisional games—in Philadelphia and home against Dallas—end the regular season.
At 7-6, they still need to catch the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears if they have any hopes of making the playoffs.
If they can muster what would more than likely be a gritty win against the Browns, and if Griffin III is healthy, the Redskins should like their chances after they were sitting at 3-6 only a month ago.
The Cowboys demonstrated incredible resiliency after coming back against the Bengals in Cincinnati with heavy hearts following the tragic DUI accident that ended the life of Jerry Brown Jr.
Tony Romo struggled mightily for most of the afternoon, but the defense played well and Dez Bryant showed up when he was desperately needed.
Next week's game against the Steelers will undoubtedly be interesting, as will the season finale against the Redskins.
Right now, the Cowboys have a realistic shot to finish 10-6.
Adrian Peterson is having an MVP-worthy season, less than a year removed from completely blowing out his knee.
His Minnesota Vikings were the better team against the Chicago Bears in Week 14, and with that victory, they are now only a game out of the NFC playoffs.
A road test against the St. Louis Rams will be formidable, but ending on the road in Houston and at home against the Green Bay Packers makes it hard to believe that the Vikings will gather enough wins to jump the three teams that currently reside above them in the standings.